March 2009

Rosenthal Predictions

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports published a bunch of predictions for 2009.  The column is a good conversation-starter.  Rosenthal sees Jake Peavy and Roy Halladay being traded this year.  He also expects the Nationals to draft and sign Stephen Strasburg.  Consider this thread the place to preserve your 2009 predictions for posterity.

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Chipper Jones Agrees To Extension With Braves

12:09pm: The AP has contract details.  It's a three-year, $42MM extension.  Click the link for the incentive and option details.  Given Jones' offensive abilities I consider this a good deal for Atlanta. 

TUESDAY, 8:30am: Bowman says Jones and the Braves have agreed to "a three-year extension worth over $40MM that includes an option for 2013."  There's a news conference this afternoon.  With Chipper signing, that's one less big bat on the 2010 free agent market.

MONDAY: According to's Mark Bowman, Chipper Jones is close to an extension with the Braves that could keep him in Atlanta through 2013.  An announcement is possible Tuesday.  Bowman says it's believed Jones came in seeking a three-year extension covering 2010-12 with an option for '13.  He'll turn 37 in April.

It'll be interesting to see the money on this one.  FanGraphs valued Jones at $29.4MM in '07 and $34MM in '08.

Odds & Ends: Colletti, Youkilis, Turnbow

Links for Tuesday…

  • Chat today, 2pm CST.
  • Rays info from Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times: they're trying to figure out a way to keep Jason Isringhausen, and they've released pitcher Chuck Tiffany (part of the Danys Baez trade in '06).
  • In talking to Ramona Shelburne of the L.A. Daily News, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti explained his success reading the market this offseason.  He also said, "I believe there will be some players available on July 31st that normally would never be available."
  • Ken Davidoff of Newsday reminds us of past trade discussions involving Kevin Youkilis, before he was highly regarded.
  • Baseball America's Jim Callis notes that the Cubs released "three of their top picks from the last six drafts this spring: outfielder Ryan Harvey, the sixth overall pick in 2003; righthander Grant Johnson, a second-rounder in 2004; and lefty Mark Pawelek, the 20th overall choice in 2005."
  • According to's T.R. Sullivan, Rangers reliever Derrick Turnbow's opt-out date is Thursday.  He's talking to his agent about whether he should head to Triple A Oklahoma.
  •'s Anthony Castrovince says lefty reliever Juan Lara signed a minor league deal with the Indians – "just 16 months after a car accident nearly took his life."

Garland Hopes To Stay With Arizona

On January 29th, the Diamondbacks signed starter Jon Garland to a one-year deal with a mutual option.  Garland will earn $6.25MM in '09 and the team is not permitted to offer Garland arbitration after the season if he's a Type A free agent.  There's a mutual option for $10MM for 2010.  It's a $2.5MM buyout if the club declines and a $1MM buyout if Garland declines.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic recently talked to Garland, who doesn't want to worry about the option:

"I'd love for the team to get off to a good start.  I feel I'm fitting in pretty good with the team. I hope they see that. And maybe midway through the season we could tack on a year or two and maybe get something done. I truly hope I never see that option come into play."

Garland was surprised he wasn't able to land a bigger deal, even coming off a 4.90 ERA.  His thoughts on that:

"I'm not going to say my true feelings about some of the stuff that went on, because I definitely feel there were some things going on. But it definitely wasn't the funnest year to be a free agent, I can tell you that."

Is he hinting at collusion?  At any rate, Garland blamed his off 2008 on too many bad pitches, switching back and forth between catchers, and trying to do too much in a contract year.  Garland is in a contract year again and has to work with both Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero, so hopefully he can limit the bad pitches.

Rosenthal On Matthews, Thomas, Hammel, Niemann

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new column…

  • The Angels attempted to sell the Reds on Gary Matthews Jr., but it was a one-sided discussion. The Reds have no desire to trade Bronson Arroyo or Aaron Harang for Matthews.  Angels GM Tony Reagins told Rosenthal, "We haven't had much discussions with respect to trades and trade possibilities."   UPDATE: Reds GM Walt Jocketty told John Fay he hasn't talked to the Angels since the Winter Meetings.
  • Free agent DH Frank Thomas is still waiting for an offer.  He intends to delay a decision about retirement until at least the All-Star break.  My thought – his situation just got a bit tougher with Gary Sheffield becoming available.
  • Rosenthal says the Rays could keep both Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann and cut Lance Cormier, if trade offers for the first two aren't acceptable.  Rosenthal adds the Rangers, Nationals, and Indians to the already known suitors (Padres, Pirates, and Rockies).  He names the Brewers as "yet another possibility."  Rosenthal says the Angels attempted to acquire Niemann a year ago but learned from Reagins that they're not actively looking for pitching.
  • The Phillies ate Adam Eaton's contract, but team president David Montgomery is unwilling to do the same to make Geoff Jenkins go away. 
  • Rosenthal says the offers received for Rockies infielder Jeff Baker "have not been enticing."  They may elect to keep him.

The Next Cliff Lee

RotoAuthority tries to determine who might be the next Cliff Lee in fantasy baseball.  Check it out, and be sure to read the comments for community suggestions.

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Dodgers, Will Ohman Agree To Terms

7:30pm: Diamond Leung has the terms of the minor league deal. Ohman makes at least $1.35MM if he's on the team and he could add $200K to that total based on incentives. The Dodgers have the option of paying him $2MM next year or buying him out for $200K. Tony Jackson of the LA Daily News reports that the club option is for $2.2MM.

Ohman can also opt out of the deal if he's not called up by April 14th.

6:49pm: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports it's a one year minor league deal.'s Ken Gurnick adds that there's an option for a second year. He doesn't say whether Ohman controls the option or the Dodgers do, but it's presumably under the team's control.

6:20pm: According to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, the Dodgers agreed to terms with lefty reliever Will Ohman.  Terms are not known yet, but Dylan Hernandez wrote this morning that the Dodgers offered around $1MM. 

With the season starting in a week, hopefully Ohman will be ready.  He worked out for the Dodgers yesterday and Joe Torre seemed unimpressed.  Last year he did a nice job shutting down lefty hitters.

Takahashi, Mets Agree To Terms

According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post the Mets agreed to terms with Ken Takahashi on a minor league contract. Takahashi was signed by the Blue Jays this offseason before they released him today. The 39-year-old appeared in one exhibition game for the Jays.

Niemann/Hammel Rumors: Padres, Pirates, Rockies

4:53pm: According to John Perrotto of Pirates Report, the Pirates are also interested in Niemann.  He says the Bucs also remain interested in Robert Andino and Jeff Baker.

Additionally, Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse says the Rockies have jumped in on Hammel.

11:16am: Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote Saturday regarding the Padres' interest in Rays pitcher Jeff Niemann:

In return, the defending American League champions have inquired about Padres prospects Simon Castro, Wynn Pelzer, Juedy Valdez and Nick Schmidt. The Padres have deemed the price too high. Niemann is out of minor league options, reducing the Rays' trade leverage.

Out of those four Baseball America likes righty Castro the most, ranking him 14th among Padres prospects.  Pitchers Pelzer (16) and Schmidt (21) also make their top 30.

Niemann will make a minor league start today, perhaps his last chance to win the fifth starter job.  The decision will probably be made today; Jason Hammel appears to be the favoriteUPDATE: Niemann tossed six scoreless innings.

Offseason In Review: Houston Astros

Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Astros.  Here's what we wrote about them on October 10th.  Changes for 2009:

Additions: Mike Hampton, Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Michaels, Doug Brocail (re-signed), LaTroy Hawkins (re-signed), Jose Capellan, Clay Hensley, Russ Ortiz

Subtractions: Randy Wolf, Ty Wigginton, Mark Loretta, Brad Ausmus, David Newhan.  Midseason: Shawn Chacon, Oscar Villarreal, Dave Borkowski, Jack Cassel.

The Astros' offense was an issue last year, ranking 11th in the NL with 4.42 runs per game.  Losing Wigginton hurts, but getting a full season from Lee helps.  Also, Pence and Tejada are projected to have better seasons.  And even a declining Pudge offers 100 points in slugging over Ausmus.  The end result: a lineup that will score 4.46 runs per game, using Baseball Musings' lineup analysis tool and CHONE projections.  Sure, they'd score more with Wiggy at third, but in hindsight it was right to non-tender him.  You'd just like to see a better solution than Blum at the hot corner.

Coupled with last year's 743 runs allowed, the Astros would profile as a 79 win team.  Can they improve in run prevention?

Last year's starters were good for 908.3 innings of 4.56 ball.  Wolf and Chacon are gone.  Brandon Backe will start the season on the DL, and Chris Sampson may not have a chance to start again.  The Opening Day rotation of Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez, Hampton, Brian Moehler, and Ortiz projects at a similar ERA, especially if Oswalt beats the projection of a career-high 3.83 mark.  But this group does carry a lot of health risk and lacks depth.  The Astros' middle of the pack bullpen should be a little better in 2009 given the re-signings of Hawkins and Brocail and the lack of Villarreal and Borkowski.

According to The Fielding Bible II, the Astros' defense ranked 7th in the NL last year.  Less Wigginton is good for the defense, but more Matsui is bad.  Otherwise it's a similar cast of characters.

The Astros seem like a team that will be average at everything and fall a few wins short of .500.  Thinking optimistically, perhaps they can contend if everyone stays healthy while Ed Wade finds a third baseman and starting pitcher on the trade market.

Bottom line: Strapped for cash, the Astros went for bargains on the free agent market.  They don't seem to have the talent to match last year's 86 wins.